Multi-stakeholder partnership rolls out business advisory accreditation targeted at supporting SME sector

Unemployed youth in the North-West Province are being empowered with critical relevant skills and practical work experience, while also injecting the economy with the business advisory capabilities that will enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to rebuild and grow their businesses.

In a partnership between the Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation, and Tourism (DEDECT), the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and the South African institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), 45 graduates – holding various undergraduate qualifications – in the North-West Province will earn the internationally recognised Business Advisor accreditation at the end of the Candidacy Program.

Globally, there has been a growing need for professionally trained business advisors who are able to positively impact and bring value to SMEs of various sizes and stages in their journeys, says Lesego Mokwena, Business Advisor Specialist at SAIPA.

“As SAIPA, we saw the need to support and provide a comprehensive, world-class accreditation that professionalises the business advising function, in order to enable consistent, high-quality results in our critical SME sector. The business advisor designation offers a unique platform for candidates to be taken through a relevant, specialised curriculum, as well as through industry initiatives for continuous development along their career journey,” says Faith Ngwenya, Technical & Standards Executive at SAIPA.

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for an estimated 90% of all businesses globally, and in South Africa employ 50-60% of the workforce, while only contributing just 34% of GDP.

In the wake of the global pandemic, rioting in parts of the country and recent flooding, SMEs have been the worst affected, with thousands forced to close their doors permanently.

Sponsored by DEDECT, the graduate programme took candidates through a pilot training programme where they earn SAIPA entry-level Business Advisor Technician(SA) membership. This has been with the specific goal of catering for the SME sector, as full-time members or specialist consultants.

Business Advisory is an essential service in the socio-economic and technological development of the country and requires unique skills to create an enabling environment for growth and sustainable businesses. This specialised role supports organisations by guiding owners and directors to grow their operations using vital information and proven processes.

Qualifying learners were then afforded the opportunity to undergo job shadowing at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for a month. They received invaluable insight into the world of development financing across a variety of sectors that the IDC, a national institution, is mandated to support.

“It was very important that we equipped candidates with the most practical and current experience during their time in the organisation through job shadowing,” says David McGluwa North West Regional Manager.

“Students were allocated to an experienced dealmaker within the organisation, and we conducted regular check-ins, where the entire team would check in on whether the expectations of the job shadowing experience were being met and the necessary value being derived by the candidates,” adds Anza Mafereka, North West Region Deal Maker.

Often, companies can only accommodate one or two trainees for a six-month or year-long training programme due to budget constraints. However, through such shorter job shadowing, and a combined impactful candidacy programmes, the business advisory graduate programme aims to offer young people training and work experience that is impactful within an organisation, or as a service offered by an emerging entrepreneur.

“I am honoured to have been part of those selected to participate in the Business Advisory training and job shadowing initiative. Having spent over a year as an unemployed graduate, this opportunity provided valuable knowledge and skills, which has helped me start my own small business. I am grateful for the experience and hope that one day I’ll have a thriving business that can upskill and employ others” concludes Bakang Matshailwe, Business Advisory trainee.

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